I was recently asked on a radio interview when I knew that I had made it as a writer. I think this was a good question because so often writers seek validation for their work. My answer I gave came in two ways:
The first was an email I received from one of my readers. He explained that he had been dealing with a bully issue in school. He’d been just ignoring the taunts and basically been trying to avoid the person all together. Then he read The Dream Keeper Chronicles and saw that Kaelyn was going through a similar situation. He said his favorite part was when Kaelyn stood up for herself when she was being bullied. He said that her courage gave him courage. He never said if it solved his issue he had being bullied, but to me I felt like my book had really touched someone. That after all is why I write what I write. Some will say there’s really no money in middle-grade books, and for the most part that’s true. A few select middle-grade authors hit the big time but for the most part we are all just mid-list authors. Obviously I am not in it for the money. I am in it because I love writing books for kids and teens. They are the most impressionable and they still believe in the possibility of magic and wonder.
|Drawing by Levi, 14 years old. Depicting a scene from The Dreamstone.|
The second instance when I felt like a true writer just happened recently. I got an email from another reader. This time it came with some fan art. I was tickled pink when I saw it. Art has always had a close spot next to my heart. I learned to paint and draw by watching my grandmother put color on canvas. When I was little I always admired a painting my father had painted for my grandpa that hung in their living room. I loved how pictures could be stories within themselves. So of course when I got my first ever fan art from one of my books I was ecstatic. The artist, a 14 year old boy, asked me if I knew what scene he’d drawn. Of course I knew! It was one of my favorite scenes in the book. From all the things he could have drawn I think maybe it was one of his too.
I am glad I was asked that interview question. I think it wonderful to think about all the things that help you feel validated in your dreams. I have always wanted to be an author. I have always wanted the validation of a “real” publisher. When I decided to self-publish my books I kind of felt cheated of that validation. I had no one backing me in my dreams and goals, not publicly anyway. Validation comes in so many forms. Mine was two emails. Both from teen boys who had read my books and loved them. They are the ones that made me feel like a writer…a real writer.